Why does Hythloday refuse to become a king’s counselor in Utopia?

Hythloday refuses to become a king's counselor in the book Utopia because he says other high-ranking counselors, to protect their positions, would flatter the king and shoot down his ideas, no matter how sensible they were. He also says he has no desire for wealth, power, or fame, so he does not want to upset his peace of mind by vying for favor in a royal court.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The character of Thomas More in Utopia says that he believes Hythloday would be a fine king's counselor because of the learning and knowledge he has gained on his travels. This store of information would be useful to a ruler and help to guide him in the right direction in...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The character of Thomas More in Utopia says that he believes Hythloday would be a fine king's counselor because of the learning and knowledge he has gained on his travels. This store of information would be useful to a ruler and help to guide him in the right direction in administering his realm.

Hythloday disagrees that he would be useful as a courtier, saying he doesn't have the right gifts for it. He notes that courtiers are often people who are interested in getting ahead and taking care of their own and that they do so by flattering the king. If Hythloday came among them with superior wisdom or new ideas, they would find him a threat and do their best to undermine his advice to the king. When it came to introducing new ideas, as soon as he introduced one, they would fall back on tradition as a reason not to embrace a different way.

Therefore, despite all he has learned on his travels to Utopia, Hythloday does not think his knowledge would much benefit a king. He also feels that it would ruin his own peace of mind to become a counselor or courtier, because he is not ambitious for wealth, fame, or power, and he is more content to live quietly than vie for favor in a royal court. However, he does share his wisdom with More.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on